Written just before the scheduled end of the world last December
The world is supposed to end the day after tomorrow. Friday. So I thought this a good time to tell you what I think about a few things. The Mayans didn’t actually predict that the world would end on Friday. They simply created a calendar that had an end date. That’s what I think, anyway. I haven’t researched the point. Doing so would only produce a variety of theoretical likelihoods and some self-serving Internet chatter uploaded by worry-mongers and fanatics. So lets go with the end-date theory. Apparently the Mayans created a system of counting days and years that was not infinite but rather a term deal with a drop-dead date of Friday December 21, 2012. For now we’ll just ignore the fact that this is also the day my unreliable brother is supposed to fly in to visit his nephew. The first thing about that calendar that gets my attention is that December 21 is an odd day on which to end. We’re supposed to accept that the Mayan calendar just drops off at a random point in time. Yeah. And that’s because Mayans weren’t so hot at math. Uh huh. The same people that measured the distance to the sun with rocks and bark twine and reproduced a scale of that dimension in their temples of worship that is accurate to within millimeters of what we now accept as the true distance. Those people didn’t do math. Of course it is possible that December 21 was indeed the end of a year or a representative term of time measured in said calendar and that modern people, that is to say post Mayans, simply added ten days of fat. Kind of like what we do to genetically engineered chickens. While this may be possible, I must confess that the theory is not working for me. Regardless of whether December 21 is the end of a unit of time or not, where does 2012 fit in? It’s not an obviously round figure as is the year 2000. Or 3000. Or for that matter, 1000. Maybe the Mayans were really really good at math and the numerical roundness of 2012 was clear to them notwithstanding that the essence of that idea escapes me. Again, possible. Again I propose, not likely. I admire the Mayans. They had a good thing going for a while. Middle Mexico was a decent place to hang out. The weather was great. They built some cool stuff that lasted quite a long time. We talk about them and write books about them and read books about them. I can’t say that about a lot of folks I know. If I’m not mixing Mayans up with some other ancient people, they sacrificed virgins. That doesn’t seem like such a good idea from a biological standpoint. We protect salmon that are of breeding age. To protect the stock. There are no ancient Mayans running around sacrificing virgins any more. But I can still go out to Sooke and pretty much guarantee a large winter spring (salmon). I wonder if there’s a connection between the two concepts. And they had some sweet outfits. I’ve seen artist’s renderings and I remember this girl in university back in the eighties that wore something she said was Mayan. I digress. The thing is that they drew up a calendar that lasted long beyond the duration of their civilization. To me, that is a job well done. We shouldn’t be so quick to criticize. There are no more Mayans and there’s likewise no continuing need for Mayans to keep time. It worked for them. I wonder why are we even talking about end of times based on a Mayan calendar? We don’t use that calendar any more. If it was so good, why did we throw it out in lieu of the one we have. I would like to point out that we must add an extra day every four years for our calendar to come close to matching the pace of our planet around the sun. Twenty-four hours every four years. That’s six hours per year. I had a Timex in the seventies that was better than that. So there used to be a calendar designed by a people that are extinct because they killed their own breeding stock and left no discernable relatives who cared enough to continue their traditions and we don’t use that calendar because our seriously flawed one is better. And somebody has noticed that the long dead Mayans didn’t plan for December 22, 2012 and that’s somehow supposed to be more significant than my brother coming to visit?
So what about the puppies? It was exam time and I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation at the next table in the Bibliocafe. Students are understandably stressed at this time and so as a service and in light of the continuing obligation of the administration of higher educational facilities to provide insightful and enlightened assistance to the ambitious among us, someone called in the puppies. Yes, puppies. A whole room full of them, according to my source, were to arrive for the petting requirements of cramming UVIC students. It seems some rocket scientist determined that petting puppies releases stress. And the university is bringing in puppies by the roomful. Now, anyone who’s ever assisted with the whelping and care of a litter of puppies will confirm that it is not exactly a stress-free undertaking. Think about supervising a puppy. Now make that two puppies. Get any on you yet? Throw in a few more. Now watch where you step. Don’t let that little nipper bite. Tell him no! DON’T SIT! You almost squashed one of them. That guy has a red eye. I wonder if it’s an infection. Don’t touch him (he is so cute though). How many were there? Seven? I see only six. Where’s number seven? There are going to be twenty or so puppies in the room. I don’t know how many students are allowed in at one time. Or how stressed those students might be. I think they should be tested before admission. How much stress should be allowed into one room? Maybe it’s a trap. Draw in the most freaked-out students and force them to counseling or a stress management program. Maybe there’ll be a savvy yoga instructor advertising outside the puppy room. If I had a puppy, I’m not sure I’d knowingly invite a pile of stressed-out students in to play with it. I mean that’s bound to turn into a problem, isn’t it? I want to pet that one- with the floppy ear. Oh, you’ve had him forever! It’s my turn. MY TURN! Hey! He’s not sharing the best puppy! Give me that puppy! Just GIVE HIM! Don’t pull- I got him- I had him first… JUST LET GO… oh… what happened? I really wasn’t, uh, pulling that, uh, hard. I just… ewe. Yeah. And what about the puppies’ emotional wellbeing? Has anyone considered that? Rudimentary physics says that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Just changed in form. So for eight hours, stressed-up students march in and pet out their anger, rage, fear, unpreparedness, doubt, insecurity, panic, sexual tension, and unanchored non-specific anxiety on tiny fluffy innocents. Where does all of that tension go? Students enter as walking toxic emotional waste dumps and leave as angelic air-fluffed chi-centred equalized spiritual beings connected to all things in the universe. And the puppies? Well, I imagine they’re left feeling like method actors leaving an audition for a Woody Allen film. They’re going to be wolfing back the Ativan and barking around in ever decreasing concentric circles until they disappear. They’re going to rip each other to shreds. Or bare their teeth and pounce on their owners in the dead of night. Their puppy fur is going to fall out. They’re going to develop canine migraines and kinked tailbones. One of them will stay awake all night baying at the bare light bulb in the closet. And one particularly quiet and withdrawn puppy, one that hasn’t shown any outward signs of affect, might just risk downing a whole box of Milk Bones in the hope that someone will find him in time. It’s a tragedy. We don’t have the resources and training to keep alert to all of these issues. No, we can’t continue to dump all of our stress and anxiety on innocent puppies. We need puppy control laws. In the Excited States, where I think the right to unlimited access to puppies is entrenched in the constitution, more puppies are in need of rescue per capita than in any other industrialized nation. The statistics are staggering. One research paper suggests that by the year 2040 one in four white upper-class Republican homes will have a puppy living under the oppressive regime of a Siamese cat with papers, or an adopted tabby.
Speaking of Republicans, I watched the Miss Universe Pageant on television last night. Donald Trump appeared to have sponsored the thing so that he could sit front and centre without attracting any attention. He sat with his eyes at stage level, inches from where the most beautiful representative of each of eighty-three countries strutted past smiling down on his spectacular bouffant. By the look of his hair, I’d suggest that he was severely petted as a child. By a rich white man living in the south. Long after the civil war. A man with too much money in the financial markets and not enough in real estate and television. The Donald won’t make that same mistake. Anyway, I was enjoying the show (every time my wife walked into the room, I hit the wide format key on the television controller. “The contestants aren’t that thin. Look at all those teeth.”). They showed some of the tweets people sent in. One guy said he was going to have Miss South Africa’s body by Christmas. And not one of the contestants mentioned world peace. That’s progress for you. And then there was a serious bit: In honour of the children and adults massacred in Newtown Connecticut last week, they offered up a moment of silence. Perhaps I had been too quick to criticize. These were good, right-thinking people. I steeled myself for the contemplative pause. And then they broke to a commercial. Immediately. Not a second after Ken and Barbie advised of the compelling gesture. I know the world has gotten faster, but that was not a moment by anyone’s definition. No way. I wondered what to do. Was I supposed to mute the commercial for discount appliances at BrandSmart in order to acknowledge the dead and mourning? Certainly The Donald couldn’t have intended that. Someone paid serious coin for that spot. And I’m pretty sure that an electronic device implanted in my television tracks when I mute the commercials and correspondingly increases the likelihood of my taxes being audited based on my use of said button. I guess it was a win/win situation for the Pageant. The Donald looks like he gives a shit about dead innocents and he doesn’t have to endure dead air space paid for by N.R.A. supported corporate America. Besides, American viewers have the god given right to decide whether they want to have a moment of silence or not. This is not something that should be thrust upon a people who’s collective fathers fought for independence, free speech, and the like. The president of these United States ordered all flags to be at half-staff in honour of the fallen and out of respect for the families of Newtown. What kind of a place has to order honour and respect? This morning I saw a huge American flag flying fully at the top of it’s mast. Rammed right up the gilded eagle’s ass. In utter defiance of the socialist edict from the White House. The flag was big enough for a family of five Democrats from Mississippi to camp under. Nobody’s going to tell me how to fly my goddamned flag. Anyway, guns don’t kill people, puppies kill people. Did I mention that my brother is flying in on Friday with his purebred Neopolitan Mastiff and his surgically enhanced trophy wife? Yes my friends, the end of the world is nigh.